Coconut milk is a delicious ingredient: it's thick and creamy, tastes distinctively of coconut, and is an essential base for a host of dishes, including but not limited to curries. It's also relatively expensive, usually ringing in at over $2 for a small (13.5 oz) can, which is fine for making a curry but not so great if you happen to like coconut a lot and happen to be into making smoothies or drinks with it. Though it hardly qualifies as "gourmet food," a nice post-workout protein drink, as a matter of fact, can be made by incorporating a little canned coconut milk (recipe below).
While its designation as a "coconut milk beverage" clearly indicates that the coconut milk drink produced by So Delicious isn't going to be great for curries, perhaps it will be good as a tropical base for healthy smoothies, but unfortunately, it is a let-down there. To be fair, the drink isn't great, but it's not terrible either. It feels like watery coconut milk, but surprisingly, it doesn't taste like coconut almost at all. If you are in need of a lactose-free alternative to milk and you're allergic to almonds to boot (almond milk is actually quite good!), then this product edges out rice milk rather clearly without the weird reputation of soy, so far as milk alternatives go, but it doesn't really taste like coconut.
This product is quite healthy, though. Coconut gets its fame lately as a health boon, despite being ridiculously high in fat, saturated fat at that, by containing an array of medium-chain fatty acids that appear to be a health benefit instead of a detriment (see link for reference). This product features them prominently. It also is vitamin-fortified and makes a good source of many nutrients, including Vitamin B-12 calcium, and thus it's not a bad milk replacement in your diet at a relatively affordable cost (about $3.50 per half gallon) if coconut fats are something you're interested in getting more of. Unlike actual coconut milk (from cans), this product is shockingly low in protein at about one-eighth the protein content of milk in equal-sized servings. It is, however, made with good-quality ingredients, "coconut cream" topping the list, though this Examiner is quite skeptical of that claim as coconut cream is properly defined as the really thick stuff that floats to the top of canned coconut milk if it's allowed to stand for a while. This beverage is not thick.
Coverage of this beverage is included because it is available in the specialty-foods aisle at Knoxville-area Kroger stores and thus may have a gourmet-quality reputation that it doesn't deserve. This drink is what it is: thin, a little slippery in texture, and, most importantly, not decidedly coconut-flavored. When used in a smoothie, the difference from having chosen milk is distinct and annoyingly noticeable without providing that kick of tropical coconut flavor that one would hope for in a coconut-milk beverage that lists coconut cream as the first ingredient (and only sugar and vitamins otherwise, somehow neglecting the obvious inclusion of more water than coconut).
To make a great post-workout smoothie that does taste like it has coconut in it, use the canned coconut milk using this recipe, which tastes something like German chocolate cake:
- 6 oz. (whole) milk;
- 4 oz. canned coconut milk (e.g. Goya or Taste of Thai brands), shaken well before opening;
- 25 g whey protein concentrate, unflavored (available at Knoxville-area supplement or health food shops or online);
- 1 heaping tbsp. evaporated cane juice (available in Knoxville-area Kroger stores in the baking aisle or at upscale grocers like The Fresh Market and Earth Fare for more money and the same product);
- 2-3 tbsp. (by taste) unsweetened cocoa powder (rec: Ghirardelli, available at Earth Fare and The Fresh Market in Knoxville).
Simply combine all of the ingredients in a shaker bottle or blender and mix well. If shaking by hand, expect to spend some time and effort doing it to ensure there are no lumps. For a thicker shake, replace half of the milk with (whole milk) yogurt, either vanilla flavored (if you have a sweet-tooth) or plain. One can of coconut milk will make three such drinks, and it is a great source of healthy fats, restorative calories, and protein (equivalent in protein content to whole milk) that put you back together after a workout with a slightly gourmet, homemade flair. Substituting the (not) So Delicious beverage featured in this article gives a poor result.
Please remember, as indicated throughout this article, to buy your ingredients locally whenever possible. Canned coconut milk is available in the Asian or Mexican sections of Knoxville-area grocers like Kroger, The Fresh Market, and Earth Fare, so it's easy to find. As for the So Delicious beverage, if you'd like to try it, you can find it in the specialty/healthy foods section in many local Kroger stores, but don't expect much out of it. Get the almond milk (same price, same display case) instead if you want a milk alternative (almond milk is even good in coffee!).
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